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Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1996

KU EDITION

August 17, 1996

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Watkins Student Health Center offers students a chance to visit a physician on campus.

Got a cold? Think you're coming down with something? Break a finger in a basketball game?

Then you might want to head over to Watkins Student Health Center, the student-funded health care facility on Kansas University's campus.

About 81 percent of KU's students use the center at least once a year, said James Strobl, director of health care services.

"I think the students know that we're accessible right here on campus and they can come here between classes," he said. "We're inexpensive compared to most places, in terms of our pharmacy because we buy on the state contract."

The center, just east of KU's Robinson Center tennis courts, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays. After 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, there is a an after-hours charge of $30.

Students can get X-rays, prescriptions, laboratory tests, physical therapy and educational and counseling services at the center, he said. The center employs 10 physicians and 11 nurses.

Students are not charged for routine visits, but they are charged for minor surgery, such as stitches, X-rays or for medication, he said.

The center accepts the students' medical insurance. And students can purchase an optional health insurance policy through the Student Senate, he said.

The center, which is getting a new addition this summer, was first started by students in 1906, Strobl said.

From 1912 to 1917, Dr. James Naismith, the father of the game of basketball, was the university physician at the health center, Strobl said.

In 1931, Elizabeth Watkins provided the money to build the university's first hospital in the 20,000-square-foot building that is now Twente Hall.

The current health center building, constructed in 1970, has 62,000 square feet.

"That makes it the largest student health care center in the country," Strobl said. "Now in 1996, we're adding 20,000 square feet more. That was voted through by the KU students."

Students approved a $15 fee per student per year for 12 years to cover the costs of the $4.5 million addition and renovation, expected to be completed in August.

"This is totally funded by students," Strobl said. "We don't get one dime of state money."

Strobl said the addition will bring the total number of patient examination rooms from 17 to 41. The number of treatment rooms for specialized procedures will increase from three to nine, he said. Those are rooms where patients might need to lay down for treatment, such as receiving intravenous medication.

"We're not a hospital," he said. "We're an early care facility. A hospital or an emergency room is a legal connotation and requires very specialized medical equipment that we don't have because we don't have enough demand for the use of it."

One of the other major changes is the center will go from four wheelchair-accessible restrooms to 23 to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

"The big, big change that students will notice the most is the appointments," he said. "Currently we see about 25 percent of our students by appointment, and we hope to do minimum 80 percent. That should cut the wait for our students."

He said when he first became director in 1983, the center had 15,000 visits to doctors from students a year. That's grown to about 45,000 in 1995, he said.

"We've tripled the number of patients," he said. "I think we've gotten greater dependence on our physicians by our students."

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